Sharp Tongue aim­ing to com­plete re­cov­ery by lick­ing the Aussies

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS - By Paul Ed­di­son

JOSH Tongue started 2017 re­cov­er­ing from back surgery and await­ing his County Cham­pi­onship de­but yet the Worces­ter­shire teenager will fin­ish the year Down Un­der with the Eng­land Lions af­ter a dream de­but sea­son.

Still only 19, the fast bowler was called up this week to the Lions squad in place of the in­jured Es­sex bowler Jamie Porter, and will join fel­low Worces­ter­shire young­ster Joe Clarke who had been named in the ini­tial squad.

It’s been a whirl­wind sea­son for Tongue, who re­quired surgery on his back over the win­ter and only started bowl­ing again in Jan­uary.

He re­cov­ered at a rapid rate, and made waves on his County Cham­pi­onship bow as he took a five-for against Glam­or­gan.

Tongue kicked on, play­ing all 14 red-ball games, and help­ing Worces­ter­shire’s charge to the Di­vi­sion Two ti­tle.

How­ever, even af­ter such a stun­ning de­but cam­paign, he ad­mits the Lions call-up has come as some­thing of a sur­prise.

“I’ve known for about a week now and it’s an amaz­ing feel­ing to be in­volved,” said Tongue, who took 47 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 25 in Di­vi­sion Two.

“I had my back op­er­a­tion last win­ter so I wasn’t ex­pect­ing to play any­where near as much this sea­son. I thought I would only play five or six County Cham­pi­onship games.

“I’ve got a cou­ple of screws in my back, but the great thing is that it felt fine all year. I’m ac­tu­ally just des­per­ate to play again so I’m look­ing for­ward to the train­ing camp and then head­ing out to Aus­tralia.

“I’ve never been be­fore but it will be a great ex­pe­ri­ence. I know Joe Clarke and have come across a few of the other guys in the Lions squad, but there will be a lot of new faces.

“Lots of those guys play in Di­vi­sion One so it will be good to pick their brains and lis­ten to them.”

Tongue had been due to take a spot on the ECB Pace Pro­gramme in South Africa, prior to his call-up to the Lions squad.

While he re­mains raw, he has been able to show­case his abil­ity, and took on an even more im­por­tant role when over­seas all-rounder John Hast­ings had to cut his sea­son short pre­ma­turely due to in­jury.

That led to Tongue open­ing the bowl­ing – a chal­lenge he rel­ished as Worces­ter­shire fin­ished their cam­paign strongly to take the Di­vi­sion Two ti­tle from un­der Not­ting­hamshire’s noses.

He added: “Win­ning the Di­vi­sion Two ti­tle is the big­gest thing I’ve been in­volved in, and it was amaz­ing to be a part of it.

“We didn’t feel the pres­sure be­cause Not­ting­hamshire were ahead for much of the sea­son, but beat­ing them was a big mo­ment.

“They fell off a lit­tle bit at the end of the sea­son so it was great to be able to win the ti­tle.

“I started get­ting the new ball when John Hast­ings got in­jured, and I en­joyed that. I was al­ways try­ing to make the bats­man play and it worked out well.”

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